Democrats Will Push Taxpayer Funding of Embryonic Stem Cell Research Soon

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 3, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Democrats Will Push Taxpayer Funding of Embryonic Stem Cell Research Soon

by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 3
, 2008

Washington, DC ( — Seeking quick legislative victories in Congress to show they are the party of change, along with their new president Barack Obama, Democrats are expected to push an embryonic stem cell research bill in January. The measure would force taxpayers to fund research that involves the destruction of human life.

Although adult stem cells are the only kind of stem cell to ever help patients and scientists are more energized about the new iPS cells from direct reprogramming, Democrats are still stuck on embryonic cells.

Embryonic stem cells have never been tried in humans because of the problems associated with their use in animals — ranging from the growth of tumors to immune system rejection issues.

Still, Democratic leaders want to overturn the stem cell research policy President Bush put in place.

Though they and mainstream media outlets describe it as a stem cell research funding ban, the policy has allowed hundreds of millions of dollars to flow to adult stem cell research and millions more to go to older embryonic stem cells.

The only prohibition is on new embryonic stem cell research that requires the destruction of days-old unborn children to obtain the stem cells.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi already cited embryonic stem cell research funding as a top priority and the bill could become part of the Obama-Congress change mantra.

"There is a large degree of consensus to move quickly to demonstrate that change has come to Washington," Rep. Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat, told the Wall St. Journal Wednesday.

But Charmaine Yoest, the president of Americans United for Life, told that she thinks it is a waste of taxpayer funds to pay for destructive and unproven research during a major economic crisis.

"Given the current state of the economy, to squander taxpayer resources on research that destroys human embryos, that shows no actual therapeutic results, and that in fact runs counter to the latest stem cell discoveries (induced pluripotent stem cells or iPSCs) is nothing more than ideologically-driven government at its very worst," she said.

"It is mystifying why Speaker Pelosi and other leaders in Congress continue to push for funding to destroy human embryos in the face of continued success with stem cells from bone marrow, umbilical cords, and other non-embryonic sources," she said.

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